I have begun a project which I'm hoping may strike a chord with other artists, and would welcome potential collaborators. It was sparked off by taking part in the Processions 2018 events to honour the centenary of women's suffrage. 

Collaborators or respondees to this topic are very welcome to contact me via Instagram or by email.

 

Working title -

Honouring my grandmother.... whilst escaping her legacy.

My First Collaborator- My grandmother:

In this centenary year I got to thinking how my life differs from that of my grandmothers who were the first generation of women to achieve the right to vote. It occurred to me that many of my practical skills, those I utilize every day, were taught to me by my maternal grandmother. She lived through two world wars and survived her husband by 20 years. Both my grandfathers were coal miners, and died at a young age, as did my paternal grandmother.

 

My grandmother helped to raise me and my siblings and, like many women of her generation, she did not work after marriage. Her life was defined by domestic skills which we would now describe as 'chores'. She taught us how to use a sewing machine, hand embroidery, knitting, crochet, baking and lots of other 'crafts' to pass her time with us, and to save money. She was my first collaborator. 

 

The skills I learned, combined with my love of drawing, led me to a successful first career in fashion design. They are now providing the basis for further investigations into form and materials in my artwork.

 

  • The project's initial jumping off points are phrases my grandmother used - "make do and mend", "housework is never finished", "you can't beat a good crisp fold", and "you can never completely get rid of the coal-dust". 

  • A further strand to the nature of the project must be working with limited and economical resources. These working class women knew the value of money, how not to waste it and how to re-cycle - before it became a buzz word for our generation.

  • Moreover, I intend to try to make this artwork in the domestic environment, not in a studio, and not with overly technical materials. I am starting with scissors, paper, pencils and paint, threads,  textiles and discarded domestic materials.   

Some of my first memories with my grandmother are of laundry days, coal-dust on shirt collars and cuffs, white cotton bedsheets on the line and being ironed. Her iron was not electric (like my mother's), it was heated on a black-leaded kitchen range, used for all the cooking duties as well as heating the water. I wonder if I am recalling these images in my frequent use of a monochrome palette. 

 

All art is but dirtying the paper, delicately. John Ruskin, The Elements of Drawing.

On the line, on the board.

About some of this work -

Same Place, Different Time - Made from papers of varying absorbency which were stained with paint and hung on the line to dry. Folded and stitched together then observed in relation to light and shadow. At one point in time the shadows were painted onto the ground paper whilst at a different time the shadow was stitched as an outline silhouette. The work represents a manifestation that we are never standing still, we are always looking at the past as well as the present, whilst thinking about the future. 

Linear Process 1 and Linear Process 2 - Process 1 incorporates a paper bonded to linen fabric, painted, folded and stitched .  Methodology started with a pattern shape echoing a tailor's block silhouette for paper pattern making, but also the folding and stitching process for pleated garments. Stitch lines on the linen paper are drawn onto the ground mounting board. They transcend the bounding paper, returning to the object. 

Process 2 involves a rationalisation of the object and time passing over it - returning the observed object back to 2D in much the same way as fashion illustration functions. 

A Grain of Dirt Begat the Pearl - Letter to my Grandmother -the imagery recalls architecture, vernacular and corporate. Materials echo laundry day which involved keeping the dirt off the linen, parcel paper protecting it. Here the 'dirt' is used to create something new and valuable and the' drawing' process is actually stitching. 

New place, new life